Lady Banks Bookshelf

Lady Banks Pick of the Week


Read This Now: The Index

What if there were an army of indie booksellers enthusiastically reading and reviewing practically every new book coming out in the next year, and what if the books they were the most excited about, the books they couldn't wait to push into their customers' hands with a breathless "You've GOT to read this!" (virtually or otherwise), the ones with all the nine- and ten-star ratings were carefully curated and collected in a handy list? Well, all we can say is...KEEP READING!

Browse the whole list!


What if there were an army of indie booksellers enthusiastically reading and reviewing practically every new book coming out in the next year, and what if the books they were the most excited about, the books they couldn't wait to push into their customers' hands with a breathless "You've GOT to read this!" (virtually or otherwise), the ones with all the nine- and ten-star ratings were carefully curated and collected in a handy list? Well, all we can say is...KEEP READING!

Browse the Read This Now Index!


RECENT RECOMMENDATIONS FROM SOUTHERN INDIES...

I Stink is a book I read to my seven year old son a few months ago.

He really enjoyed following the garbage truck through the book to see what he does on his daily route. One thing I liked was, everything the garbage truck ate, he ate alphabetically. This is a great kids book and everyone will love this smelly, sassy garbage truck.

I Stink! by Kate McCullan (HarperTrophy) Recommended by Christina at Blue Ridge Books Waynesville NC

Sendker’s new novel, Whispering Shadows, is sure to be as big a hit as The Art of Heart of Hearing Heartbeats.

Sendker focuses again on what he does best, the human condition; love, trust and friendship are exquisitely woven  into a beautiful narrative that draws the reader into a another world. Paul Leibovitz has made his home in Hong Kong and has had a very successful life. A personal tragedy involving his son leaves him bereft and isolated. As he struggles to navigate the losses in his life, he is drawn into a mystery involving a missing American businessman.

Paul and his Chinese friend, Zhang, attempt to discover the truth and are caught in a web of distrust and lies. Chinese culture and its past political history  play a significant role in resolving the crime. Sendker offers significant insight into the Chinese psyche as he explores the important issues of love, trust and friendship in this poignant novel.

A fascinating story that captured my imagination in the first paragraph and didn’t let me go until the end! Loved it!

Whispering Shadows by Jan-Philipp Sendker (Atria), recommended by Stephanie at Page & Palette Fairhope AL.

This probably isn’t the first book you’ve seen that promises to help you see Jesus’ parables in a new way, but the book is unlike any other, and Amy-Jill Levine is like no other author. Levine is a Jewish New Testament scholar who uses her knowledge to show the parables in their original context.

Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi by Amy-Jill Levine (HarperOne) Recommended by Allison at Blue Ridge Books Waynesville NC

Seven year old Millie Bird meets Karl, Agatha and Manny as she goes on a journey to find her mom.

After Millie’s father passes away, her mom leaves her in the ladies underwear department of a department store; that’s how she meets Karl (87) and Manny (misunderstood). Agatha (82) lives across the street from Millie and once she realizes that Millie’s mom has left her, she decides to join the three of them in the search to find her.

The four of them get into trouble along the way, making for a humorous and sometimes disappointing journey.

Lost & Found by Brooke Davis (Dutton) Recommended by Christina at Blue Ridge Books Waynesville NC

While Fuller’s first book, Cocktails Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, paints an exquisite picture of her early life in Africa, this memoir portrays her later life as she tries to navigate the world outside her African experience.

She marries an American in the hopes that he will take her away from her unorthodox upbringing only to discover that her life does not fit as she had hoped.  She confronts her life and its difficulties, revealing the complexity of her family as they deal with suffering and loss.

A poignant narrative that is worth reading.

Leaving Before the Rains Come by Alexandra Fuller (Penguin Press) Recommended by Stephanie at Page & Palette Fairhope AL

This is the first novel by Chantel and it is as good as her other two.

Josephina is the daughter of a Cuban police sergeant in pre-Castro Cuba. She leads a wonderful life until she falls for a poor man.

She becomes estranged from her father and at one point thinks her father is dead. But he is not and the letters he writes to her (she thinks she is getting letters from a ghost) reveals his family relationship and his love for her.

A wonderful story of family with a pervasive Cuban flavor. I loved it! This book won the 2006 International Latino Book Award.

Love and Ghost Letters by Chantel Acevedo (St. Martin's Griffin) Recommended by Stephanie at Page & Palette Fairhope AL

In The Garden of Burning Sand, Corban Addison weaves a wonderful tale of a power struggle in an African city.

Centered on a case of child molestation, Addison  introduces characters from all walks of life to give you the perspective of what child molestation does to everyone.  The child in this story has Downs Syndrome and she finds people to help her in the court system.  They are limited in what they can legally do, but they still work to bring justice to the child.

Addison wants to show how we as Americans have to be willing to help these children by bringing DNA labs to African courts  This is definitely a novel with a message , but with skill he gives us an excellent story to surround the issues that he wants us to be aware of.  If this book had been tackled by a less skilled author, it would have been a book that you thought you should read and you would struggle through.  Corbin was able to weave a beautiful story through the difficult issues that he brings to the front in this excellent novel.  I encourage you to read it.

In The Garden of Burning Sand by Corban Addison (Quercus) Recommended by Molly at Fountainhead Bookstore Hendersonville NC

In this haunting coming of age story, we meet a young Moroccan named Lakhdar who spends his days in Tangier watching girls, reading French detective novels, and gazing across the water at the elusive lights of Spain.

When he is kicked out of his house for an improper relationship with his cousin, he begins a journey that takes him from the streets of Tangier to the Straits of Gibraltar, and finally to Barcelona, where he finally finds some semblance of a home despite the squalor and chaos of his surroundings. 

Set against the backdrop of the Arab Spring and the collapse of the European economy, Street of Thieves is a dark and beautiful portrait of a boy's fateful path to manhood.

Street of Thieves by Mathias Enard (Open Letter Books) Recommended by Tony at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

Paula McLain does an exceptional job of capturing Beryl Markham and her singular life, as well as painting a vivid portrait of Kenya and a host of other noteworthy characters, including Karen Blixen, Dennys Finch-Hatton and the two British princes, Harry and David.

I've been a fan of Beryl Markham's since reading her memoir, West With the Night, in the '80s, and have also read whatever I could about her. This is a beautifully written, authentic novel of the acclaimed horse trainer, pioneer aviator, and gifted writer, about whom Hemingway famously wrote -She can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves as writers...it is really a bloody wonderful book.

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain (Ballantine) Recommended by Sarah at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

In this companion novel to Atkinson's bestseller Life After Life she tells the story of Ursula's brother Teddy, the favorite of his mother, his sisters - and, I have to believe, most readers.

Teddy's story is no less moving than Ursula's, skipping backward and forward in time from his dotage to his childhood and times in-between. The heart of the story is WWII and Teddy's years as an RAF pilot, making forays deep into German territory, an experience that will color the rest of his long life.

A wonderful novel that totally immerses you in a different world and at the same time makes you question many things about your own world.

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson (Little, Brown and Company) Recommended by Sarah at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

Understanding that her more delicate husband would never survive the Civil War, Constance Thompson takes up the moniker Ash, disquises herself as a man and joins the Union army in his stead.

Inspired by true stories of women who wore blue and gray, readers should not dismiss Neverhome as one novel among many.

Neverhome by Laird Hunt (Little, Brown and Company) Recommended by Lyn at Square Books Oxford MS

Salter writes sex sans sentimentality and his breakthrough novel will make you blush and book a flight to France. Following an affair between a Yale dropout and young French woman, Sport avoids the sappy story trap through sparse, seductive prose.

Buy this book and read it when no one is watching. Literature has rarely been this lusty.

A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) Recommended by Everett at Square Books Oxford MS

Distraught over her father's death, Macdonald decides to train a goshawk. Mabel enters her life.

This stunning book is resonating with readers everywhere. Macdonald is willing to feel, to the depths of her soul, and to share those feelings with the world. And, with her command of language, she has the ability to enable us to understand her hawk's, and her own, thoughts, emotions, moods and instincts and their extraordinary bond.

This book is about so much: grief, identity, relationships with humans and other species, and tolerance of, and respect for, all living beings - including oneself.

H Is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald (Grove Press) Recommended by Samantha at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

It's been in the news for years, but Jay Smith & Mary Willingham's Cheated lays out the UNC academic/sports deception and prime players in all its breathtaking scope.

Follow the timeline and see how the dots are connected. While I'd read about the scandal, Cheated was full of revelations. Even more than for UNC, the authors make clear how this fits into a history of multi-institutional disgrace.

What happens next is urgent for the landscape of collegiate money-making sports and its players.

Cheated: The UNC Scandal, the Education of Athletes, and the Future of Big-Time College Sports by By Jay M. Smith, Mary Willingham (Potomac Books) Recommended by Rosemary at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

A strange, beautiful book about science, art, identity, war, and storytelling itself, I am Radar stretches its tendrils across continents and generations, and into some pretty ambitious narrative territory.

When Radar is born with black skin to his pale white parents, a chain of events begins that entangles the particles of the universe from New Jersey to Norway, from Cambodia to the Congo. What happens when a radical Norwegian puppet collective meets the Colonel Kurtz of library books? Mr. Larsen's wild ride of a novel is mind expanding indeed.

I Am Radar By Reif Larsen (Penguin Press) Recommended by Tony at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

Fans of magical realism and international literature will love Cristina Garcia's Dreaming In Cuban.

Following the lives of three generations of women, her story shows how culture, family, and spirituality shape who we are and the place we choose to call home. Garcia pulls from Santeria, using the religion's relationship with color to create vivid imagery that mirrors the characters' lives. This book is truly entertaining and readers of all ages are sure to find a heroine.

Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia (Ballantine Books) Recommended by Emily Catherine at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC